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Monday, April 14, 2014

Arroyo View Estates: A slice of ’60s suburbia above historic Highland Park

Drive north on Avenue 66, passing by the tiny wood bungalows and grand Craftsman-style homes of Garvanza and Highland Park, and then take Easy Street and Fortune Way into a world of 1960-style suburbia.  Here, on a Highland Park hillside that butts up against the Pasadena city limit, a tract of about 200, mid-century ranch houses conjure up images of Tupperware parties and station wagons.  Arroyo View Estates is everything that the rest of Highland Park is not.  Instead of the narrow, numbered streets.  there are wide, gently curving avenues and even a cul de sac or two. Instead of arroyo stone and front porches, there is Palos Verdes rock and atriums. While Highland Park and Garvanza claimed leaders from the local Arts & Crafts movement, including Charles Lummis, Arroyo View Estates was hailed as the home of players from the Dodgers and Rams.  Arroyo View Estates might seem out of place with the rest of Highland Park. But the neighborhood has attracted some residents interested in mid-century design and a Pasadena-adjacent location, said real estate agent and Arroyo View Estates resident Richard Perez

“They are great for entertaining.  You are talking about real closet space,” said Perez of the three and four bedroom homes.  Compared to a classic bungalow, Arroyo View mid century homes “are much easier to live in.”

How did Arroyo View Estates come about?

The hillside tract was built in two phases by Glendale  developer William Gorham.  Many of the homes were built in a simple, contemporary ranch-style design. But there were several custom homes built, said Perez, as well as some more flamboyant properties with some Hollywood Regency touches, including metal mansard roofs that wrap around entrances to courtyards and atriums located a few steps off the street.

The ads and publicity for the homes, complete with wall to wall carpeting and sliding glass doors,  took turns making a pitch to male and female residents. A 1962 ad for homes priced starting at $27,500 played up the kitchen:

Ladies, you’ll know “you have arrived” when you see your Arroyo View Estate custom kitchen. The beautiful cabinets in your choice of Dreamwood or Spicewood have adjustable top shelves, slide out lower shelves, lazy susans and Formica countertops.

Meanwhile, stories in the L.A. Times publicized the arrival of “Sports Star” to Arroyo View Estates. A 1964 story reads:

Los Angeles Ram halfback and co-captain Jon Arnett has become the third member of the professional football team to move into a new hillside home at Arroyo View Estates.

Arnett, who purchased a four-bedroom, three bath home on three levels with a “studio living room,”  joined Larry Sherry of the Dodgers and Norm Sherry of the Mets in the new development, according to the story.

Today,  Arroyo View Estates does not seem to attract many sports stars, and many of the original features, including atrium fountains and lanais, have been removed or enclosed, said Perez, the real estate agent.

But the wide, party-friendly layouts remain and there are still plenty signs of the 1960s – from decorative cement block walls to white globe lights and lamps – to be enjoyed after a drive up Easy Street.

5 comments

  1. one of my good friends grew up there. always dug going up into that little neighborhood – cool architecture.

  2. WOW! Thanks for this post. These houses are very cool.

  3. We moved into the neighborhood a few months ago and simply LOVE IT! We definitely have a fixer that needs some love but the bones are fabulous with some origins details we will definitely preserve as we upgrade embracing the modern aesthetic. Everybody who comes to visit is so impressed with the location and vibe they start checking in with us to find out if other houses are coming up for sale. It’s groovy!

  4. Calling all Glendale historians. Was developer William Gorham the father of Thin Lizzy guitarist William “Scott” Gorham (Born in Glendale, 1951.) Scott Gorham’s sister was married to the drummer for Supertramp.

  5. Grew up at 1024 Fortune Way, with my three brothers and one sister–lived there from 1965-73 and I can assure you many parts of it were just as idyllic as you’re describing. Of course, the place wasn’t spared turbulane social times. Fascinated to read about this…

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